Friday, August 05, 2005

Serve Communities. Solve Problems. Strengthen America.

This has been the goal of the National Conference on Volunteerism and Service which I'm attending in Washington, DC. Today was the second full day.

My first session was a briefing on goals by David Eisner, CEO for the Corporation for National Service (CNS) and Bob Goodwin, CEO and President, Points of Light Foundation.

Eisner talked about a new 5 year strategic plan for CNS and Goodwin outlined the key focus areas of Points of Light. These were a) build public awareness of the benefits of service; b) help build infrastructure through which service is delivered; c) collect and share knowledge about what works. These points resonated with me. Maybe its because they are the same goals we have for strengthening volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs.

This was a pretty open session and many participants were able to make comments or ask questions. When it came my turn, I asked when they would host versions of this type of CEO interaction on the Internet where more people could ask questions and interaction one on one with the leader of the organization, or with each other.

It's not in the pipeline yet, but my question prompted one of the other participants to say "lets talk". This turned out to be Billy Bicket from We spent more than an hour exchanging ideas, with lots of scribbled designs on paper and a commitment to look for ways where our organizations might collaborate.

That was my goal in coming to DC in the first place. Meet people, get good ideas, build collaboration.

Today's lunch was a general session dedicated to recognizing corporations for the good work they do to support volunteerism and service. The featured speaker was David Lauren, Sr. Vice President of Advertising, Marketing and Corporate Communications for Polo Ralph Lauren. While we expected another corporate self promotion, this was the real deal. I urge you all to visit and learn about The G.I.V.E. Jean. Yesterday Jon Bon Jovi said he wanted to make volunteerism hip. Polo Ralph Lauren is putting this vision into action.

I networked with a variety of other corporate and volunteerism leaders this afternoon, but the focus of all of my efforts were to show people how they could use the good ideas they learned from the companies like Polo Ralph Lauren, to motivate businesses in their own communities to duplicate these ideas in support of local charities. Buy G.I.V.E Jeans this fall and you'll send a convincing message to other companies that marketing volunteerism is good for the community, and good for the company.

In a few days I'll add links at to the various companies who received awards this week so that these can be used as models in local corporate involvement campaigns. If you know of other companies that are as innovative as Polo, send details and a web site to me or tell me by posting a comment on this blog.

I'll be back in Chicago late tomorrow where I'll also be trying to use these good ideas to create greater support for tutor/mentor programs and other volunteer-based charities in Illinois.

No comments: